The EU is brokering deals with Africa and Latin America for critical raw materials. But it finds itself squeezed between China, Russia and the US for the minerals essential to the green transition.
“It is very important that Africa is not seen as a reservoir of raw materials that continues to be exploited by Westerners to create added value elsewhere.” The warning comes from Celine Tshizena Pegasus, a Congolese lawyer and advocacy director at Afrewatch, a natural resources watchdog.
In July, Afrewatch and dozens of international NGOs sent an open letter to the European Commission, slamming its strategy to source critical raw materials from the Global South. Deposits of minerals such as cobalt, lithium, nickel and rare earths are barely explored in Europe, let alone mined in the quantities required for the green transition.
Yet, they’re crucial for the production of electronics, electric vehicles and renewable energy. Their extraction can have devastating impacts on the environment, indigenous land and human rights.
“We, in resource-rich countries, are already experiencing the double impacts of the climate crisis,” the letter read. “On one hand via the effects of climate change itself and on the other hand from the increase in mining and renewable technologies infrastructure resulting from decarbonisation plans of rich countries.”
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